(the following were not necessarily released in 2009—but I saw them in 2009)
# 5 THIRTY-SIX HOURS
Days before Normandy, the Germans capture and drug Major Pike. They place him in a fake allied army base and convince him that the war is over, hoping he will casually divulge key information about the invasion. James Garner stars along with Eva Marie Saint (North by Northwest) and one of my favorite actors Rod Taylor (The Time Machine and The Birds). To top it off, it’s based on a story written by Roald Dahl. The result is a unique film with some great acting. One of my favorite black and white movies I’ve seen in a long time.
# 4 THE BLIND SIDE
This is the true story of Michael, a guy in high school whose life seems doomed to negligence and hardship until he is taken in by a family who treats him like a son. This is one of Sandra Bullock’s best roles. The story is just fun and moving. I kind of expected a film in which the climactic point would be some grand slow-mo moments in a championship football game. But it wasn’t about that. Although football is at the heart of it, they took the story to a much deeper level in unexpected ways.
# 3 LITTLE DORRIT
Rarely would I suggest this, but watch the movie before you read the book. See my summary of the book on the list above. It stars Matthew Macfadyen (Pride and Prejudice), Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings), and several other first-rate actors. It is a mini-series that was presented on Masterpiece Theatre. It won several awards and is a something I would like to own some day. Great story, great photography, great music. In conclusion: great.
# 2 STAR TREK
I could just say “J. J. Abrams” and be done with it. But I’ll say a few other things. Incredible acting—nailing yet not mimicking icons. In particular, the actor who played a young Doctor McCoy was uncanny in his mannerisms and voice. The movie has a plot that cleverly sets the stage for a whole new approach to a story that should be worn to tatters by now. The writing saved this from being just another reheated remake in a junkyard of such. I’m looking forward to a whole new series of “going where no man has gone before.”
# 1 UP
In the first ten minutes of this film there are very few lines spoken. But by the end of those first ten minutes, I was so emotionally involved, that I knew I was going to love this movie. The music was memorable and a perfect match to the story. The plot was outrageous and fun. At first, the boy (Russell) seemed to be a character that wasn’t going to work for me. I predicted that he would be annoying or merely a cliché. But I quickly grew to like him and now consider him one of the more complex characters from Pixar. I heard that there was some concern about the protagonist being a crotchety old man (Carl)—due to him being a high risk as far as merchandising. Good for you, Pixar, for not letting dollars kill your ideas. THE INCREDIBLES, MONSTERS INC., and UP are the best three of the Pixars. What order they fall into in my mind probably depends on which one I watched most recently.